Tag Archives: Spain

Be proud of your research because you are contributing to human health, Spanish audience hears at EARA event

EARA’s latest event in Alicante, this week emphasised the importance of the Spanish Transparency Agreement and being more open with the public about research using animals.

More than 130 people in the life sciences community, from 10 different institutions, heard a panel of experts from neuroscience, animal welfare, and the science media discuss the topic, Improving Openness in Animal Research in Spain.

The event, at the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante (CSIC-UMH), was supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, provided the background for why there is a need to improve openness in animal research in Spain. He outlined the growing polarisation in public attitudes towards animal research, the need to provide better information to the public, and in turn the importance of the Spanish Transparency Agreement, signed by more than 140 institutions.

‘Transparency agreements bring public and private research together to work to improve openness in animal research,’ he said.

Professor Juan Lerma, neuroscientist at the CSIC-UMH and editor-in-chief of Neuroscience, illustrated the success of the Spanish Transparency Agreement, ‘this agreement has been a role model for other countries,’ he said.

Highlighting the importance of animal research, he emphasised the need for researchers to proactively communicate and educate so that this essential research can continue.

‘You must be proud of your research because you are contributing to human health. This is something we must defend and support,’ he said.

Elaborating on the need for transparency, Dr. Carmen Agustín (pictured), neuroscientist at the Functional Neuroanatomy Lab at Jaume I University and the University of Valencia, talked about her experiences of being actively engaged with the public about her work through blogs, twitter, TV.

Dr. Agustín reassured the audience on being open about their research: ‘Usually people are scared to talk about research on social media as they think they will get a lot of negative feedback, but this is not the case.’

Science journalist, Daniel Mediavilla, of El País, and one of the founders of the science and technology news website, Materia, expanded on engaging with the public.

He described how scientists working with animals can work well with the media, ‘Get familiar with the media, adapt your message to the outlet, know your media environment, and know personally, if possible, all the journalists you should talk to in case of need.’

In addition, he gave advice on how to have a louder voice in the media, ‘Emotions are almost everything, sometimes scientists have to use emotional aids.’

The event ended with a panel discussion to answer a broad array of questions including, ‘How to reach those not interested in science?’ where Dr. Agustín suggested giving talks at events which draw in those who wouldn’t normally attend science events, such as Pint of Science events at pubs and bars.

Greater numbers of institutions in Spain are explaining their use of animals in scientific research, latest EARA survey reveals

Madrid, 17 September, 2019: The Spanish biomedical sector has made greater strides towards openness about the use of animals in scientific research in the last year than ever before, according to a new report by the European Animal Research Association (EARA).

Among the clear signs of this openness, the survey results from the second annual report (in Spanish) of COSCE (Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies) Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, shows that every institution signatory of the Agreement now has a public declaration on their website explaining their policies on the use of animals. 

The Aragon Institute of Health Sciences (IACS) in collaboration with Etopia Center for Art and Technology ,  designed an exhibition based on exploring science through the senses. 

Launched in 2016, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, has been signed by 140 institutions and contains four commitments to provide greater information about the scientific research using animals that they conduct, as well as to improve the level of understanding about the benefits, harms and limitations that animal testing can entail.

The report was conducted by EARA, which along with the Spanish Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SECAL) helped COSCE to develop the Agreement[1].

 “Scientific institutions, in the Agreement, no longer hide or are ashamed about their research with animals and they are clearly explaining to society what their activity is and that they do it ethically,” says Margarita del Val, Vocal of Life and Health Sciences of COSCE.

The report, launched today in Madrid, at CSIC, assesses the progress of institutions towards openness and includes examples and case studies (in Spanish).

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Call for Australia and New Zealand biomedical sector to follow Europe and be more open about animal research

‘We are lagging behind on openness about animal research’ say vets and lab technicians.

A survey of Australian and New Zealand vets and technicians who care for animals, used in medical and veterinary research, has shown that most believe scientific institutions should be more open about animal use.

They are also supportive of a public pledge, similar to those found in European countries, to commit Australian and New Zealand institutions to greater openness.

The survey by the Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association (ANZLAA) of more than 150 people working in animal care has found that 87% believe research institutions in Australia and New Zealand should be more open about their research involving animals.

Speaking at this week’s ANZLAA conference in Perth, Australia, veterinarians Dr Malcolm France and Dr Jodi Salinsky said that 87 per cent of survey respondents wanted research organisations to be more open and would support the development of an ‘openness agreement’ similar to the UK’s successful Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.

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Free EARA event on openness in animal research in Spain, this October

The latest in the series of EARA science communications events, supported by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), will take place in Alicante, Spain, on 1 October.

Institute of Neurosciences, Alicante, Spain

Improving Openness in Animal Research in Spain is a free event (register here) and will focus on why scientists, researchers, press officers and other stakeholders should talk openly about animal research, but will not be a debate about the ethics of animal experimentation.

It will take place on the Monday, 1 October, (14:30 – 18:00 CEST) at the Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante (CSIC-UMH), and is a public event, although it will be of particular interest to those working in the life sciences sector.

Following the presentations, moderated by Cristina Márquez, Neuroscientist, of CSIC-UMH, there will be a panel discussion followed by a drinks reception.

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EARA website study shows the Spanish biomedical sector must continue to improve openness on animal research

A study by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), of websites of biomedical research bodies in Spain, assessing how they discuss research using animals, has found that the sector needs to continue to make progress towards an acceptable level of openness and transparency in animal research.

EARA assessed a total of 189 institutional websites in Spain, during 2018, both public and private bodies, such as universities and pharmaceutical companies, and a rating system was developed to analyse the data. The main findings were that:

  • A large majority of institutions (84%) conducting animal research carry a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research/animal welfare.
  • However, just under two in five of the websites assessed (38%) meet the criterion for providing ‘more information’, for instance by including the kind of animals used.
  • Fewer than one in five (18%) of the websites can be considered to have prominent mentions of animal research – such as recognisable statements within three clicks of the homepage.

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Spanish initiative says ‘Animal Research Gives Life’

The Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL) used World Day for Laboratory Animals (24 April), as an opportunity to communicate on animal research.

EARA Member SECAL, created a video (in Spanish) with examples on the benefits of the biomedical animal research.

The message in the video “La experimentación animal da vida” (Animal research gives life) was repeated by board members of SECAL.

Research institutions from Spain and Latin America (including EARA Spanish Twitter) shared the video on social media with the hashtag #LaExperimentaciónAnimaldaVida.

Sergi Vila of SECAL, said the video as “a very positive initiative”, especially on the eve of the general election in Spain, where the Animalist Party (PACMA) has called for the ending of animal research.

A look back at recent biomedical breakthroughs thanks to animal research

On the eve of Biomedical Research Awaerness Day (BRAD 18 April), EARA looks back at some of the important medical advances over the last year that have involved research using animals.

Among the breakthroughs reported, that benefit both humans and animals, are:

  • Research using mice led to many new breakthroughs, such as multiple sclerosis research, at the University of Cambridge and to fight chronic pain using synthetic Botox at University College London, UK.
  • In surgical research on sheep at Lund University, Sweden, freeze-dried valves – later rehydrated for transplantation – were used in animal heart surgery for first time.
  • A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, Spain, succeeded in curing pulmonary fibrosis disease in mice using a gene therapy.
  • In Belgium, researchers at EARA members VIB, KU Leuven and UZ Leuven used mice to develop new antibacterial drugs.
  • Building on a technique developed in rats, Swiss researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, have announced that stimulating a person’s spinal cord can restore voluntary movement in some paralysed patients (see picture).

Scientists are also developing new biomedical treatments and techniques that replace, refine or reduce (3Rs) the use of animals in research.

  • A team from the University of Oxford, UK, and EARA member Janssen Pharmaceutica, Belgiumwon the International 3Rs Prize using a computer model that predicts accurately the risk of drug-induced heart arrhythmias in humans.

Animal research is integral to ongoing research in areas such as spinal cord repair, stem cell treatments (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), gene therapy (muscular dystrophy, diabetes) and molecularly targeted cancer medicines.
Historically, animal research has also led to new diagnostic tests for early treatment (cancer, heart disease); and effective treatments for serious illnesses (diabetes, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease).

The same research often helps humans and animals (treatments for arthritis, neurological disorders, organ transplants, cancer therapies) and contributes to farm animal welfare and techniques to save endangered species.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “Without the use of animals the pace of advances in biomedical research would be dramatically slower.

“Finding alternative methods to animal research, such as computer models and cell cultures are extremely important, but animal testing remains the safest and most effective way to produce drugs and treatments for us all.”

Spanish animal 2017 statistics shows drop in procedures

New figures released by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, show an overall decrease in the use of animals in biomedical research last year.

According to the official government website (in Spanish), in 2017 there were a total of 802,976 procedures involving animals, which compares to 917,986 in 2016, .

Overall this reflects a significant drop, equivalent to one-eighth of the 2016 total number, including almost halving of the number of times fish were used (from 168,746 to 85,687).

The statistics, made available annually in compliance with European law, demonstrate the continuing commitment of the Spanish biomedical sector to working responsibly with animals used for research.

Particular trends show a reduction in the number of procedures on mice, rats, pigs and, especially cephalopods⸺down from 8444 to 20. More procedures on cats (531) and dogs (1476) occurred in 2017 than in the previous year. This overall downward trend countered the way the number of procedures in Spain had previously been increasing since 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Lluis Montoliu of the National Centre for Biotechnology, Spaintweeted: ‘It must be remembered … that the use of dogs is still indispensable in the preclinical validation of innovative gene therapy treatments for diseases and that the use of non-human primates is equally essential in certain pathologies that affect us.’


Survey reveals great progress made by biomedical research sector in Spain to be more open about animal research

The first report on the Spanish biomedical sector’s commitment to be more transparent about its research using animals, published today, has highlighted the great progress being made to improve openness.

Launched in 2016, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, (‘Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España’) now has more than 120 public and private research centres, universities and scientific societies as signatories. It contains four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.

1/ Speak with clarity about when, how and why animals are used in investigation.
2/Provide adequate information to the media and the general public about the conditions under which research using animals is carried out and the results obtained from them.
3/ Develop initiatives that improve knowledge and understanding by society about the use of animals in scientific research.
4/Report annually on progress and share experiences.

The report, (in Spanish) launched today at the Student Residence of the CSIC, in Madrid, assessing the development of the fourth commitment has been carried out by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), in partnership with the Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL), a member of both the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE) and EARA. Continue reading

Transparency Agreement on animal research in Portugal

The Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal (‘Acordo de Transparência sobre Investigação Animal em Portugal) is a collaborative project by EARA and the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL).

This is an initiative inspired by the Transparency Agreement in Spain, launched at 2016 where EARA co-operated with the Federation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE) and by the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. At the launch on June 21, 2018, the Transparency Agreement was signed by 16 institutions including Research Centres and Universities from across Portugal. 

By signing up to the Portuguese Transparency Agreement, the signatories agree to the following obligations:
– Make a declaration concerning animal welfare on the Institution’s website.
– Link to the Transparency Agreement.
– provide adequate information to the media and the general public on the conditions under which animal research is carried out and the results obtained.
– Develop initiatives that promote greater knowledge and understanding of society on the use of animals in scientific research.
– Report on progress achieved on an annual basis and share experiences.

View here all the organisations that have signed the agreement to date.


With the Transparency Agreement, EARA and SPCAL aim to work together to foster a climate of openness around animal research in Portugal. The four commitments ensure that the Transparency Agreement is an actionable document, which signatories can use to guide their progress toward openness on animal research.

This agreement builds on work in Portugal that began in 2017. A number of Portuguese research institutes met to discuss how to improve the Portuguese public’s understanding and acceptance of animal research. At this meeting were representatives from the Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon, Nova Medical School Lisbon, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, the Instituto de Medicina Molecular and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. At the meeting EARA proposed to explore the possibility of developing a Transparency Agreement to guide efforts on openness on animal research in Portugal.

If your institution wishes to support this initiative and sign the Transparency Agreement, or if you have any questions, please contact:
– Ana Barros, EARA co-ordinator, abarros@eara.eu
– Bob Tolliday, EARA Communications Coordinator, btolliday@eara.eu 00 44 (0) 7715525535
– Ricardo Afonso, President of the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL), acordotransparencia@spcal.pt